The fledgling jackruit tree Dada and I had discovered quite by chance one nondescript evening as we chased each other silly has now come of age.
And stands tall and proud, laden with fruit aplenty.
So much that Grandma and Maa have been patiently sending jackfruit dispatches to relatives and neighbours.
The kitchen too has been relentless churning out jackfruit delicacies – delectable dalnas, sinful kalias, fragrant pulaos, even cutlets to cheer up mundane weekday afternoons. Jackfruit has been paired with chicken in a fiery korma. That Dada and I keep entreating Maa to prepare for us again. And with prawns in a to-die-for decadent curry.
Even the seeds have not been discarded.
They have received a patient scrub and left in the fierce sun to dry.
I have been more than earnest in leaving them under the glare of the sun in the mornings and checking on them once back from school.
How many more days Grandma ? I quiz everyday. Impatient with the languorous wait. For Grandma to make her stir-fry of jackfruit seeds with kalonji and wicked green chillies !!!
And its one such sultry afternoon, the sun listless, the lull deafening, the kalboisakhi brewing, I return from school to be greeted with luchi and enchor diye cholar dal.
Jackfruit in cholar dal ? My first reaction is one of cynic skepticism.
I relish my narkel diye cholar dal. The one Grandma makes on puja days. With the toasted coconut slivers and plump dal-drunk raisins.
Why did she deviate from a classic that Dada and I adore ?
Grandma reads my mind.
Try it my Princess. If you don’t like it, I shall make you something else. She calmly pleads.
Hesitatingly I take a first bite.
And the flavours explode on my taste buds. I am numb with pleasure.
You are a magician Grandma. I hug her once done with the meal. How can you churn out such magic day in and day out ?
One day when you have seen the world, you shall be a far more accomplished cook than me. Just follow your heart.
Enchor diye cholar dal. Bengali Chana Dal cooked lovingly with green jackfruit. The earthy heat of grated ginger. The perfume of whole spices.
Food heaven !!!
Enchor diye Cholar Dal (Bengali Chana Dal with Green Jackfruit)
- 300 g enchor or green jackfruit cut into medium cubes
- 1/2 cup cholar dal or bengal gram
- 2 tomatoes finely chopped
- 2 tsp ginger grated
- 3-4 green chilies slit
- 2 green cardamom
- 1 one inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 2-3 dry red chilies
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tsp ghee
- salt to taste
- Soak the dal overnight. Boil till just cooked, taking care that the dal is not too mushy. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a pan, temper with crushed green cardamom and cinnamon. Throw in the cumin seeds, bay leaves, and red chilies. Saute for a minute or so. Allow the spices to release their aroma.
- Add the grated ginger and tomatoes now, sprinkle in a little salt, saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the green jackfruit, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Cook for a further 10-12 minutes till oil starts to be released from the masala.
- Add 1/2 a cup of warm water and pressure cook, 1 whistle I would reckon is good enough. Allow the steam to release on its own.
- Gently add the boiled dal to the jackfruit. Throw in a few more green chillies if you want. Give it a good stir. Return to flame, adjust seasonings and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Finish with a dollop of ghee and a generous sprinkle of garam masala powder. Serve hot.